Bratislava City Council is to raise several fees, including the city's accommodation tax, fees at elementary art schools and entrance fees to sports grounds and municipal cultural institutions. Mayor Matúš Vallo explained the hikes by pointing to the negative effect that recent legislation and inflation has had on the city's budget for the current and future years.
“It is not pleasant for any municipality to raise fees,” said Vallo, as quoted by the TASR newswire. “However, the government’s decisions, by which they took huge resources from the budgets of municipalities, leave no other option for towns and villages.”
Interim Prime Minister Eduard Heger disagrees with Vallo, claiming that the government has compensated municipalities for 90 percent of their losses. On top of that, municipalities can count on higher collection of income taxes, of which they receive a portion. The latest prognosis predicts an increase of €168 million in these.
“The numbers speak for themselves, the government’s decisions last year affected the budgets of municipalities in the amount of €585 million, but the measures we took at the end of the year amounted to compensations in the amount of €525 million,” Heger said, as quoted by TASR.
Accomodation tax will increase the most
The city's overnight accommodation tax will increase by 64 percent, i.e. from the current €1.70 per person per night to €2.80. The city expects the measure to raise an additional €2.3 million.
"It will be at the level of, for example, Ljubljana (€3.13) or Budapest (€4.00, or 4 percent of the hotel price at €100 per night)," Bratislava City Council specified for The Slovak Spectator.
For now, the accommodation tax is the only tax to be increased by the city. But it is also increasing payments at facilities for senior citizens, school fees in elementary art schools, and fees charged by the municipal funeral services provider Marianum. Entrance fees to sports grounds and municipal cultural institutions will increase by an average of 25 percent. These measures should raise an additional €3.7 million in total.
The city has not specified when these payments will rise, or to what levels.
"A proposal to increase payments will be submitted to the May council session," the council said.
Vallo warned that Bratislava may soon have to increase public transport fares, waste collection fees and property taxes.
Bratislava has a budget, after three months of provisional financing
City councillors approved the budget of Bratislava for 2023-2025 on Thursday, March 23. Bratislava’s budget for 2023 will total €607.5 million, some €125 million more than last year.
“Preparation of the budget was marked by government decisions that cost the city €55 million, with more obligations transferred to local governments, plus inflation,” said Dagmar Schmucková, spokesperson of Bratislava. “In view of this, even Bratislava will not avoid restrictive measures.”
To patch the hole in the budget, the city has already stopped renewal of the city council’s fleet. It plans to reduce expenditure on reconstruction of municipal buildings and on staff costs.
“The city council will cancel dozens of jobs, which will save €1.5 million this year and €3 million the following year,” said Vallo said, as cited in the press release.
Planned projects and investments will be negatively affected too. This year, the city will give less money to repair roads and pavements, and reduce maintenance of bridges. It will also suspend the planting of flowers and trees, and will renovate fewer public spaces.
“We have to slow down implementation of the Vivid Square project,” said Vallo. “We had to reduce the renovation of sports fields and art school buildings to a minimum, and we have to cut €2.5 million from the development of social services.”